Sweet and Savory Overnight Roast Pork

By • May 26, 2014 61 Comments

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Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 four-pound boneless pork butt (from a butcher you know, well-marbled, and with a good layer of fat on top)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (plus more to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Tie the pork butt with twine in several places so that it cooks evenly. Salt it generously all over and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  2. In the meantime, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, mustard, thyme, garlic and chipotle powder in a small bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. When the pork is at room temperature and the oven is hot, smear the sugar, mustard and garlic mixture all over the pork, concentrating a good amount of it on the top pf the roast, where the fat is. Nestle the pork (fat-side-up) into a roasting pan or cast iron baking dish just big enough to hold it, and put it in the oven. When you start to smell garlic and sugar burning, and after no longer than 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 200 degrees. (Do not open the oven door to peek!)
  4. Leave the pork in the oven overnight, for at least 6 hours and up to 8. When you wake up in the morning your house will smell intoxicating, and the pork will be ready to shred and pack up for lunches for the whole family -- all you need is a soft roll and some coleslaw or pickled fennel, or a big pile of mashed potatoes.

Tags: cooking for kids, overnight cooking

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Comments (61) Questions (5)

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about 4 hours ago julianne

I've made this two times before with GrEAT success. My new oven cooked it at 300 degrees for 8 hours! Any suggestions of how to salvage this rather dry meat. All juice, gone. But I hate to throw it away. Pasta sauce? Juice it up with stock/juice/wine?? Thank you

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5 months ago Kimberly wade

After 3 tries I've got this!! And, will use this recipe forever. So versatile & flavorful and easy! I follow the directions pretty close with a few minor tweaks that I think are needed due to differences in oven temps. On the 3rd attempt, i bought an almost 5 lb roast, with more dark meat, than my previous ones. I cut the roast in half to have maximum crispy edges. I prepared exactly as written, after 7 hours on 200, I added 3/4 c. of water, a lid and increased to 325 for 2 hours. The result is magical! It
shredded and it was even better than my 1st attempts where there was not shredding. I served with bakery hogie rolls & a chopped Thai salad - a total crowd pleaser. I used my le cruset this time too.

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2 months ago Kristopher Smith

I have to admit, your comment saved the day. I pulled roast after 8 hours. Internal temp was over 160, but it was not even close to shreddable. I put it in a Le Cruset with the pan drippings and about 3/4 cup of water, turned the oven up to 350 and cooked covered for two more hours. Result was awesome. Fell apart easily. Very tasty. Given this last step, I'm wondering if I could have gotten the same result with 2-3 hours less oven time. Maybe roast for 4 hours, then an additional 2 hours covered?

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5 months ago babylemon

Love this recipe! I decided to sear on the grill first, which made clean up a breeze. Then threw it in the oven overnight.

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6 months ago Rebecca Leon

I was a little unsure as to how this recipe would turn out since there was a lot of discussion about the type of pan you should use and should be covered or uncovered. One of the comments was from the editor and she left her pan uncovered, so that is what I did. After nine hours at 200°, the pork roast came out wonderfully. I was able to pull the pork apart and tonight I am making huevos rancheros with the leftover meat.

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6 months ago Chris Glenn

Chris' Comment: The cast iron pan in the vgonyea comment was not ruined, she just lost the seasoning, because the acids from the garlic and etc. ate the seasoning. That's why I quit using "bare aluminum or Bare non-enamel coated cast iron for cooking acid based food! I now use Pyrex, stainless steel (without plastic handles) or good non-Chinese ceramic pots for cooking anything that has acid in it. (I say non-Chinese and I also mean non-Mexican & etc. ....anything you have to worry about having toxic ingredients in it that might leach into your food!!!!
(too much iron from un-treated cast iron is not good for you either!!! Chris Glenn)

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6 months ago Mark Oviatt

Made this for dinner yesterday. Started it first thing in the morning. Oh WoW! My wife adored it and has said that I am never to lose the recipe and have to cook it again. One suggestion - cook it in a disposable aluminum pan. Much easier cleanup.

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6 months ago Robert Wilkanowski

I ordered a 7 pound, bone-in shoulder from Fresh Direct, removed the skin, and left on some of the fat. Other than extending the time to account for the larger size, and upping the temp a bit to get the internal temp to 200 degrees (Thank you Dflip) I followed the recipe exactly. This came out great and made fantastic leftovers.

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6 months ago Joe Lerro

Ok started at 5am super bowl day and by 530am by house is filled with smoke..... warning don't open the oven door until its done. Lets hope this will be good or my wife will kill me for setting off the smoke detectors.

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6 months ago vgonyea

So, I'm the one who lost the cast iron skillet over this one a few months ago and speculated whether the use of the convection oven might've caused that. My question on that has not yet been answered so it took me a while to try it again and here are the modifications I made:
1. I did not use my (now new) cast iron skillet. I used a large, round corningware dish with a lid (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/CorningWare... ).

2. For the first high-temp period, I put it in for 8 minutes, then I took it out and basted it (using my turkey baster). Then put it back in for 3 minutes (still at high temp), then took it out again and basted it again. When I returned it to the oven the second time, I covered it. Did 3 more minutes at the high temp and THEN I lowered it to 200. Total time at high heat was 14 minutes.

3. After 7 hours, I checked the internal temp...it wasn't up to 205 (which is when it becomes "pullable" according to others here, which seems to be correct) so I took off the lid, re-basted it, raised the heat to 260 and then checked the internal temp every hour afterward until I got to 205. It was 2 more hours.

It is perfect, succulent and delicious. It practically pulls itself apart. I don't have as hard of a "bark" as others here have achieved BUT, I do have a delicious "crust" (not as thick as a bark) and I also don't have a ruined pan. A delicious success!

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6 months ago LBE

I made this last night. I'm not convinced yet, the interior was not as savory or as juicy as I anticipated. After shredding I used the pan drippings (drained the fat first) and tossed it into the shredded meat. That was a good move imo.
I will toss the left overs w pasta tonight, maybe with Marcel Hazan's Tomato Sauce.

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6 months ago Suparna Basu-Ravis

Husband made this today. Only change was adding shallots. This was the real thing. Absolutely amazing and satisfying. Beautiful combination of flavors and meat was cooked to perfection.

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6 months ago Alma Sisk

I had to try this and while it turned out very tasty, just as others had mentioned, it did not shred well. That's not to say it can't be done. I think, as was also mentioned, I did not have enough fat cap thus resulting in a leaner cut of meat. So I shredded as best I could, put it back in the roasting pan with a generous amount of BBQ sauce, covered it with foil, stuck it in a 200 degree oven, and let it warm for a few hours as I waited for guests to arrive. It was delicious. I will definitely make this again...with one that has more fat :)

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7 months ago DogBisquit

I discovered Boston Butt from a friend, and Southern BBQ restaurateur. This cut is cheap, versatile and delicious! I've tried cooking it half a dozen ways, but always covered. I've abandoned the crockpot for my Dutch oven, and have never had as much success cooking in liquid (oil, beer, broth), as I have roasting.

I usually apply a dry rub hours ahead, or the night before, followed by pan searing to help develop the bark. Sometimes I will cut the roast into 3" cubes to increase the surface area, which also increases the flavor of the seasoning, and I can fit more meat in the pot. This also seem to diminish the cooking time (a little). I will try uncovering the meat next time, probably for the last 30 minutes, and spike the heat. As my friend always said, "It's all about the bark".

Being a single guy, I'll divide the meat into single size portions for freezing. I don't fully shred the roast, but rather pull it into small chunks. The beauty of this is you don't really have to thaw it to use as an ingredient, just let the heat of the preparation warm it up, and you can shred it then.

One of my favorites is using Mexican spices, like cumin and dried chili power, during the initial preparation. I lay the frozen chunks out on a sheet pan and squeeze some citrus (orange or lime, not lemon) over them, and place under a broiler until caramelized. Instant Carnitas!

I've never paid attention to the internal temperature. Take it out of the oven and pull it apart with a couple forks. If it not ready then put it back in the oven(!) for another hour or more. It will tell you when it's done.

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7 months ago michelle_brown

I have an All-Clad crock pot that I can use on a burner to brown meat and then drop it in the mechanism. Do you think this could be made on the lowest setting of a crock pot (as long as it is browned first)?

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7 months ago Kevin French

Finally had the opportunity to try this recipe, and it was great. Due to ours being an 8lb boneless butt, 15 hours in (I pulled it when it was in the 160's, so it did not shred) and it sliced really well as this cut of meat will do. The flavors of the rub were fantastic. We will trim the next one to two 4lb pieces and do this again - smaller only so the flavor of the rub will be even more intense. Great recipe! Thanks!

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10 months ago Dflip

Kevin added some valuable information below about the internal cooking temperature which is a lot higher than most would suspect. The desired temperature for pork butt that you want to pull is 200 - 203 degrees F. If the butt has a bone the meat goes through a stall at 150 - 160 degrees which can take a couple of hours. I'm not sure if there is not a stall that also occurs with the boneless butt. The stall will result in meat that is cooked to a specific time that will taste fine, but will not shred. You must use an instant read thermometer or a probe to see if it's done. It tastes even better with the bone in, but you will have to deal with the stall. For more information on the smoking process, but also great information about cooking pork butts, check out this link, http://amazingribs.com...

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10 months ago Kevin French

The "stall", or as some call it, the "plateau", is a direct result of evaporation from the surface area of the meat. This happens to bone-in and boneless roasts alike. There are only two ways to deal with this, cover it in foil or cook uncovered until the evaporation cycle ends. Getting through this point can sometime take an hour or more (depending on humidity and heat levels).

While it can be frustrating, cooking through this evaporation phase is essential to getting a good crust on the exterior of the meat. Some like to wrap their product in foil, to push through this plateau, and uncover for the last 30 minutes to firm up the bark.

For this recipe, and for this cut of meat, I would not wrap it in foil as you would loose a good deal of the texture that is produced from this rub.

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about 1 year ago Dimply Dots

We loved the flavor of this!! Even the picky three year old gobbled it up. Our pork butt also did not "shred" as much as we thought, but I didn't mind one bit really. truly great and easy recipe with wonderful favors. Make this now!

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about 1 year ago vgonyea

Sigh....I was soooo excited about this! I tried it this weekend, here are my variables:
3.85 lb shoulder with fat cap
Good ol' cast iron skillet, uncovered
Initial time at high temp 12 minutes, then reduced to 200 degrees
Internal temp was to 205 when I pulled it out (about 8 hours)

Problem...."good ol' cast iron skillet" mentioned above (not aluminized, the real deal) did not survive! I've had this skillet for many years but this actually took the bottom surface off, leaving the bare silver iron below! Heartbroken.
And, after all that the meat was NOT shreddible. Tasty, but not shreddible. And I lost my favorite skillet...after about 7 years or regular ("go-to") use. So sad, it's actually hard to even write this.
ONLY other variable that I can come up with is that my oven is convection...otherwise, I followed the instructions to the "T". Could convection REALLY have done that, even at such a low temp of 200 degrees? The meat was cooked and it was delicious...and the pan has been regularly seasoned, on an as-needed basis over the years.

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about 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Oh, no! I'm so sorry to hear this. The not-shreddable situation is one that others have apparently encountered as well -- probably has to do with the specific pork butt you used (my guy sells a really fatty version that's mostly "dark" meat). As for the skillet, I really don't know what to say! I've never heard of this happening before, and I use my cast iron skillet every time I make this. This could be a good topic for our Hotline -- other cooks may have had similar experiences and might be able to offer some wisdom/advice.

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about 1 year ago Souhaite

Has anyone been able to figure out whether convection makes that much of an impact? I've got my pork butt in gear, but have a convection-only oven!

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about 1 year ago Jennifer Hillyer

One more question...I have 2 pork butts...how would I adjust the time & temp to cook both at the same time?

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about 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Don't think you need to adjust anything -- just leave yourself a little extra time in case they need to cook longer!

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about 1 year ago Jennifer Hillyer

Can I use a different cut of meat such as a shoulder?

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about 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, the butt comes from the shoulder, and you can use other parts of the shoulder too.

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10 months ago Whitney GB

does anyone else think it's rather confusing that the butt comes from the shoulder. For years, this has both amused and confused.